From Here to the Edge of the Observable Universe

Catchpole, R. (Robin)


In the first lecture we will meet the players as we take a journey from our star system to the edge of the observable Universe. We will see the evidence for dark matter and vacuum energy, which is far more common than the ordinary matter that stars and humans are made of. The second lecture will tell the story of the birth and death of stars and the origin of the elements that make our Earth. Some stars die with a whimper, creating beautiful nebulae, others with a bang that temporarily outshines an entire galaxy, whilst the most massive stars produce beams of gamma rays that shine across the Universe. In the third lecture we will return to our own solar system and look at some of the exciting images sent from other planets. Our own star, the Sun, currently being explored by a number of missions, will be the subject of the fourth lecture. Finally the lecturer will consider whether there is life elsewhere or whether we are the only self-aware observers of our Universe. We will follow the evolution of life on Earth and ask if the trajectory from single-celled organism to our technological civilisation was inevitable or pure chance.

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University of Cape Town

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